My name is Sarah J. McNeal, the author of paranormal, time travel and historical romance, and the beautiful, fun-filled state of North Carolina is my home. My family moved to North Carolina from Pennsylvania when I was five years old. Except for a few excursions to other states when I became an adult, I have lived in Charlotte, North Carolina most of my life. Because I live on the border of South Carolina, I have rapid access to that state’s wonderful places, too, like Columbia, Myrtle Beach and Charleston. But my favorite places are in the great state of North Carolina.
After living in other states like Texas, Nebraska, Virginia and Pennsylvania, I have found the place I feel is my real home where my spirit is happy and peace surrounds me. In the west, I can visit the beautiful Smoky Mountains or travel the Blue Ridge Parkway which is stunning in its vistas of fall foliage. The Piedmont where Charlotte is located and the Capital, Raleigh, just to the north, offer cultural opportunities in all the arts as well as the excitement of sports such as the Charlotte Speedway, Panthers football, Bobcats basketball and the State Fair. Okay, then there is the fun of Carowinds, too. To the east is the Atlantic Ocean, plenty of beaches, the port town of Wilmington and, to the northwest, lie the Outer Banks. Living here practically on the center, I can visit any of these locations in a few hours.
When I think of North Carolina, I immediately think in color; red clay, green foliage and huge oaks, and Carolina blue skies. To me, there is no more beautiful place on Earth.
I feel so comfortable listening to a smooth, southern drawl and the food is outrageously delicious. I wouldn’t want to miss the tasty pork barbeque that is annually sold at schools and firehouses. A look-see at some handsome firemen is a lovely bonus. Just sayin’. Just down the street from my house is a beautiful firehouse on Commonwealth Road that looks like an old south plantation and is an historical site.
Although, North Carolina does have all four seasons, winter is usually mild with just a couple snow or ice days. The mountains have a more severe winter with plenty of snow—and that’s a good thing since skiing is a big winter sport in places like Sugar Mountain. The Appalachian Mountains have an average temperature in July of 50 degrees F while the rest of the state averages a subtropical 90 degrees F. Winter in Wilmington averages a high of 56 F and low of 36 F during the coldest month of January. With good averages of rainfall, North Carolina is a bountiful agricultural state. There are those nasty hurricanes that visit us from time to time and sometimes they can be devastating. Coastal natives handle hurricanes well and rebound in ways that I can only admire. When hurricanes occasionally move inland, well, then there is trouble, but those instances are rare.
If I could, I would prattle on and on about my beloved state of North Carolina, but let me just end with a little bit about some of my favorite haunts. At the end of my blog are some tags to check out more information on some of these interesting locations.
Asheville is the famous home to the beautiful castle, Biltmore House. I’ve seen it several times including way back in the early seventies when they had just begun to open their doors to the public. It is still a home, occupied by descendants of the Vanderbilts who built it.
That’s not the only thing there is to see in Asheville. It is a highly respected art center as well.
Blowing Rock is a wonderful little resort town when I used to go with my husband frequently. We had to make the yearly pilgrimage there to get out pumpkin for Halloween, load up on apple cider and shop. There is a trout fishing derby every year, too as well as many art festivals and other activities. The Blowing Rock Trout Derby is now in its 33st year. The Trout Derby is on April 6-7, 2013.
The annual gathering of the clans at Grandfather Mountain is not to be missed, especially if you have Celtic heritage. Bagpipe and chanter contests as well as highland dancing are major entertainments and the food is wonderful. Next year’s Highland Games: The 55th Grandfather Mountain Highland Games will be held July 11-14, 2013 at MacRae Meadows on Grandfather Mountain near Linville, NC.
The Raleigh Fair is like a big deal in these parts. Even though every county has its turn at a fair, the Raleigh Fair is the king of all fairs.
The Outer Banks are a must see. The wild pony round up and the ferry cannot be missed. There is even a lighthouse tour that can be so much fun.
Of all the places in North Carolina, my number one top place to visit is Wilmington. Connected to the mainland by a drawbridge, Wilmington gives the feeling of a town that never grew into the twenty-first century. The well preserved Cotton Exchange, is not only an historical building where cotton was bought and sold back in the day, but it now houses wonderfully diverse shops from a book shop to an art boutique. Within walking distance is Chandler’s Warf for shopping and dining. You can even take a boat ride on the Cape Fear River and enjoy a river tour while you have lemonade and cookies. The River Front also contains interesting and novel shops along with out-of-this-world restaurants like the River Front Café and the White Pizza Restaurant. And if all of this is not enough to get your attention, Wilmington also has the annual Azalea Festival in its Historic District around Market Street that is beautiful beyond compare.
Last, but certainly not least, is Charlotte where I live. Although now the second largest banking center in the United States, Charlotte is also a diverse cultural center. It’s the home of Dale Earnhart Museum, The Motor Speedway, the Panthers football team as well as the Bobcats basketball team, Carowinds Amusement Park, A Whitewater center, Historical sites such as the Latta Plantation and Hezekia Alexander Home, Spirit Square Art Center, Discovery Place and many more attractions. What I love about it is the huge oak trees that majestically line the streets in historic areas like Myers Park.
You can find me at the following places on the internet:
Fantasy and Dreams Blog: http://www.sarahmcneal.blogspot.com/
My Amazon Author’s Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/sarahmcneal
Provocative Ponderings: http://pasttheprint.blogspot.com/
Sweethearts of the West: http://sweetheartsofthewest.blogspot.com/
(pictures provided by author)
(pictures provided by author)